Being the second product made in cooperation with Airbus, an airliner manufacturer, the Thrustmaster TCA Quadrant Airbus Edition should bring an ultra-realistic flight experience to its users. That is at least what the official Thrustmaster product page promises. In this review, we will take a look at the product and I’ll do my best to share my true opinion of it.
To introduce you to the product, the TCA Quadrant Airbus Edition is a throttle quadrant peripheral intended to be used in flight simulation when flying Airbus aircraft. As well as the TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition, it features H.E.A.R.T (HallEffect AccuRate Technology) magnetic sensors. In the future, two expansions to the quadrant should be coming featuring an extra axis for the Flaps selector and for the Speedbrake selector.
Before I get onto the review, I would like to thank Thrustmaster for making this review possible.
As I’ve seen only images of the product before it came, I was very much surprised by the size of the box when it arrived. Design-wise, as well as the box in which the sidestick came, it’s a very nice package with a sleek design showcasing what the product has to offer.
The packaging was very simple and easy to unbox as the product itself was in the box stored between two simple cardboard holders and in a plastic bag. Other than the throttle quadrant itself, the package contained two sets of four (1-4) engine marking stickers for the Engine Master Switches, a screwdriver/hex, a USB C cable to connect the product to the computer, and a set of screws and plastic connectors for future expansions to the product or if you want to connect two quadrants next to each other to be able to control four engines.
Although the TCA Quadrant Airbus Edition is mostly made out of plastic, I am certainly not afraid that it will break in the near future or show fatigue on the material. What I was very much surprised about is the difference in the build quality in different parts of the product, especially in the area of the throttle levers at which you can really feel the plastic material.
The product could not be considered light-weight, but on the other hand, you don’t need to worry about it moving around the table when flying. That could seriously ruin your take-offs and landings.
As my hand is in size comparable to the one Yeti usually has, I had some issues with getting the grip of the throttle levers at the start but got used to it after a few flights. It is important to say though, that while the TCA Sidestick was in a 1:1 scale to the real sidestick, that does not apply to the TCA Quadrant.
Throttle levers are probably the thing I got most disappointed about when I first used the TCA Quadrant and when I still use it. They are far better than what the TCA Sidestick got to offer, but still are very quirky, made out of plastic, which is clearly visible, and I have a strange feeling that they will not last long.
On the other hand, as mentioned in the introduction of the review, the product uses the advantage of H.E.A.R.T (HallEffect AccuRate Technology) magnetic sensors. I need to say, that the throttle levers are very accurate and there were no dead-zones present in the simulator. Even the slightest movement of the levers was visible in the simulator. The movement of the levers feels very nice, especially when you reach the area where the levers should click to the position. Great job by Thrustmaster on this.
When you look closer to the mechanism of the reverse thrust buttons, you will notice, that they are connected by a simple spring that looks very similar to the ones that are used in normal pens used in offices. I am a bit afraid they will stretch in time resulting in possible issues with the reverse buttons. They have, however, not had a single issue during the testing – it’s just a feeling I have.
The autothrottle disconnect buttons on the side of each throttle levers are as well made out of plastic and don’t feel very nice.
When I first used the switches, both the engine starter switch and the engine master switch, I was nicely surprised about the build quality and how robust they feel. While the throttle levers are clearly made out of plastic, the switches are not. There is the only exception with the Engine Mode Switch of which the handle is plastic, but the mechanism is made out of some kind of metal as well as in the case of others.
On the Engine Master Switches, before using the product, you will need to apply the stickers to mark the engine numbers. This is not necessary but adds a certain level of realism. I understand why the stickers are not applied beforehand – so people who want to use two TCA Quadrants next to each other (getting four engine options) do not have the switches marked as “1,2,1,2”.
Overall, the switches present at the product feel very nice, sturdy, and robust. Really good job made by Thrustmaster on these! Especially like the “click” sound on the Engine Master Switches.
The base of the product is made out of plastic, however, as well as in the case of the switches, still feels very robust and like something that will not break after falling from a table. The markings present at the base around the engine switches are very accurate, and the overall design is very nice.
I did, however, notice, that the area that can be used for the manual throttle is very small in comparison with how big it is in the real aircraft. I understand, that there is not much space to fit the controls in, but if the distance between MCT and TO/GA section would be a bit smaller, the space could be used for the manual throttle section and the whole product could be a bit more realistic.
If you remember our TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition review, I pointed out how the cable is connected to the product. While there, the cable was built-in, in this case, it is removable. I personally preferred the cable not being removable as it happened to me even during the testing, that I almost lost the cable and bent the connector. If you plan to use this product, you need to be careful about that. Losing a cable is not that big of a deal, but bending the connector in the product is.
Installation & Compatibility
Thrustmaster promises Plug & Play experience for the TCA Quadrant Airbus Edition with certain aircraft add-ons for all simulators. After the recent patch, even with the Microsoft Flight Simulator which was not supported at the time of the initial release.
In the testing phase, I used ToLiss A319 and ToLiss A321 which are officially compatible with the product and therefore should feature the Plug & Play experience. I was surprised when I first loaded the aircraft, and nothing worked as it should. I went into the simulator settings and needed to keybind the switches. The throttle levers kind of worked, but were set incorrectly not being able to go the reverse section. This was easily fixed, and set, in the ToLiss aircraft control panel.
Other developers of Airbus aircraft for flight simulators are now either in-progress or have already released patches for their add-ons to be compatible with the product. As I was interested, and don’t have an alternative throttle quadrant to use, I tried using it when flying a different aircraft than the supported Airbus aircraft. In X-Plane 11, from what I’ve experienced, you only need to make sure to enable reversers axis in the simulator settings and don’t expect the switches to work as they should if you want to fly other aircraft – you obviously can’t expect to have an Engine Mode switch in a Boeing aircraft.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed flying with the product. Although the throttle levers are not perfect, you can get used to using them after a few flights – it’s just the material issue I have. The switches, together with the base, are well manufactured and done, looking very nice.
If you are looking into purchasing throttle levers for commercial aviation flying, I would recommend you to put these into consideration. Especially when you want to improve your experience together with the TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition.
As in the case of the TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition, the product is intended to be used in commercial aviation flight simulation, therefore the experience you get using, for example, DCS might not be as good.